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There are countless references to this story, often in the context of teshuvah: There once was a rabbi who said to his students: “we are as far from where God wants us to be as East is from West”? And then he said to them: “By the way, just how far is it from east to west? One of his students raised his hand and said: “11 thousand miles. I just heard that on NPR.” The rabbi said, “no, that is wrong.” Another student raised his hand and said: “25 thousand miles. That’s the circumference of the world.” The rabbi said, “no, that is wrong.” A 3rd student said, “6 thousand miles,” the rabbi said, “no, that is wrong.” The distance from east to west is one step." Who is the Rabbi or where is the original source?

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  • I'm fairly certain I've heard this in the name of R' Yisrael Salanter, which also makes me believe there are some embellishments to the story, as NPR was founded long after he passed away... Sep 2 at 1:44
  • NPR was added as a jab at certain shul constituencies, but the founder of Mussar? I also saw it attributed to a Chassidic Master... Sep 2 at 1:58
  • I've heard that interpretation in the name of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk. The description as a story is just embellishment.
    – N.T.
    Sep 2 at 9:46
  • Vaguely reminiscent of Megilla 11a
    – Double AA
    Sep 2 at 14:14

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